Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
Laetus in Praesens


Analysis of Union of International Associations

A: External Factors

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Section of Report of a Preliminary Investigation of the Possibility of Using Computer Data Processing Methods (1968): a summary of the various parts of this report, and details of its contents (with links to the various parts), are provided separately

In this part the overall objective of the UIA is redefined to make it a more useful aid for market analysis. The redefined elective is used to distinguish various groups to which the UIA sells its publications and services. In the last section of this part, an outline of the future trends in the UIA field of activity is given.

Provisional definition of UIA objective

The UIA pursues its stated objectives by collecting, studying and publishing data on international organizations. Where possible these publications are sold at a profit. If a particular publication is judged to be of value to the series and to contribute to internation cooperation in general, it will be published at a loss if the funds are available. There is therefore a basic split between activities which contribute to objectives and make a profit, and activities which contribute to objectives and do not make a profit. When the organization is short of funds, it is also necessary to consider activities which do not contribute directly to objectives and yet may also make a profit.

The overall objective is stated to be "to contribute to the development of international life and to efforts being made for peace". This is very broad. If it is considered to be equivalent to contributing towards international cooperation and integration, the objective can be made more precise. International integration has been defined as "transnational bonds that bring individuals in one country into direct cultural and social relations with individuals in another country" (Smoker, P.,A7,p. 62). The . increase in the number of such bonds will therefore be assumed to be the objective of the UIA for the purpose of this analysis. On this basis, five degrees of international cooperation promotion can be arbitrarily distinguished.

These are activities which: directly result in the creation of such bonds, facilitate the creation of planned new bonds, study the phenomenon of bond formation and thus stimulate others to create new bonds, assist in creating a general environment in which such bonds will be created (by exhortation, persuasion, propaganda, etc), profit from bonds which already exist (and may incidentally result in the creation of new ones).

These will be used in the next section as a means of segmenting the market to which the UIA sells its publications and services.

Market for Publications and Services

The organizations which obtain the results of UIA activities may be grouped into two sectors. The profit market is the sector to which the UIA sells its publications with the intention of making a profit in order to finance the organization. The non-profit market is the sector which the UIA contacts without receiving any direct financial return.

Profit-Market: The customers for UIA publications have been split into groups in Exhibit 20. This Exhibit indicates how much each group contributes towards the overall objective of the organization as redefined in the previous section.  The sales of the major groups of publications to each group have also been indicated in the Exhibit. The figures given are only very approximate estimates based on the judgment of the staff and the few statistics available. The UIA has had great difficulty in obtaining accurate figures of its potential market. There are several reasons for this.  There is no clear cut market for the majority of the products.  Publications and services concerned with international relations will only be purchased by a certain percentage of a given group. This percentage varies from country to country and in each country depends on current exchange control and internal funds availability. An example is libraries. When there are few exchange control difficulties and the individual purchasing committee can justify expenditure of funds on non-national publications, and when the committee can support purchases of non-specific publications, then that library enters the potential market for a given publication.

In the organization's favour, for example, is the long-term increasing interest in international organization. This means that librarians will be increasingly disposed to purchase general works in this field, and travel agents will be increasingly conscious of the international congress field as an important market.

Another reason for the lack of figures is that the organization has not attempted to maintain any sales statistics on a systematic basis and the files are so organized as to make it difficult to establish such statictics. The UIA considers that most publications are underadvertised and that it has not penetrated many sectors of the market.

Existing markets for existing publications are shown in Exhibit 20. No attempt has been made to show the potential market for new publications. Nor does the Exhibit show the profitability of individual publications.

Markets for Yearbook and Magazine: More detailed information on the markets for the two principal publications was obtained by analysis of the available records in the Distribution Department.  The breakdown of Yearbook of International Organizations sales is shown in Exhibit 21. The number printed for 1951 to 1966 is shown in Exhibit 21a. The breakdown of the monthly magazine subscribers is given "by subscriber type in Exhibit 22a. The subscriber increases from 1955 to 1968 are shown in Exhibit 23. The retention of subscribers is shown in Exhibit 24 and the change in the total circulation breakdown from 1959 to 1968 is shown in Exhibit 25.

The locality of purchasers of the Yearbook (Exhibit 21) is: Benelux (17%). France/Italy/Switzerland (21%), U.K./Germany/Nordic (21%), North America (34%). The figures on bookshop or via bookshop sales in Exhibit 21, conceal the type and locality of the final purchaser.  Some of the bookshop sales are to other countries via the U.S.A.

The principal purchasers of the Yearbook are (Exhibit 21): IGOs (10%), university libraries (l8%) , other libraries (15%). government departments (23%), commercial firms (12%), travel trade (11%)NGOs and international institutes only account for 6% of sales. Only 1.6% of the Yearbook orders were accompanied by an order for the magazine.  It was not possible to determine how many Yearbook purchasers had purchased previous editions. Only about 1.7% have standing orders.

The principal purchasers of the magazine are (Exhibit 22a):  government departments (115%), university libraries (l6%) , other libraries (9$), travel trade (22%). These subdivisions do not exactly correspond to those for Yearbook sales.  It was not possible to separate IGO and NGO purchasers which together totalled 20%.

The locality of purchasers of the magazine (Exhibit 23) is:  Benelux (24%), France/Italy/Switzerland (29%), U.K./Germany/Nordic (22.4%), North America (18.7%).

The major point emerging from a comparison between the two publications is the much greater importance of the Yearbook in the North American market. The Yearbook has shown gradually increasing sales. The 11th edition will just reach 5000 sales by the time the 12th edition is published, after which the sales will be very slow.

The magazine subscriptions have shown a decrease (Exhibit 23) from 1960 to 1968 (Karen). An analysis was made of periods for which subscribers retained their subscriptions in selected countries (Exhibit 24). This shows that 63% of those cancelling within six years, do so after the first years subscription. They represent 79% the subscribers. This means that there is a very rapid turnover in readership.  The number cancelling after one year has increased in recent years. This is very important. It may mean that readers are not obtaining what they want from the magazine and are switching to competing publications.

An analysis of the magazine market from the addressograph plates of past, current and some potential subscribers is given in Exhibit 22b.  This gives some indication of the current penetration of the magazine market. The Exhibit makes the sales in different geographical areas equivalent in order to bring out any special characteristics of each area.  It shows for example, that more magazines are sold to the English Overseas market (30.5%) than to the French Overseas market (12.5%). The limitation of these figures as a guide to a sales campaign is that they have been obtained from an analysis of current and 'dissatisfied' subscribers. Not enough its known about the magazine market, a more detailed analysis would be a useful guide to magazine policy.

Non-Profit Market: The research done and the contacts made by the UIA to broaden understanding of the international mechanism do not necessarily lead to any financial return.  If the work is of sufficient value, if a document is of a certain significance, then this tends to improve the organization's reputation in the field. This may in turn lead to research contracts or directly to the sale of publications. These activities can be considered as a form of indirect advertising.

A main feature of the UIA's activities in connection with this market is the queries received through the post on a whole range of topics within its field.  Some of the queries can be answered immediately, others would require lengthy research. No satisfactory procedure has been evolved for dealing with this section of the non-profit market.

NGOs: The organization has a special interest in the international NGOs.  The UIA is acknowledged as an expert in documentation on organizations in this field through its major publication, the Yearbook of International Organizations.

The organization considers that these NGOs form a critical part of the international system and that their actions can do much to contribute towards the facilitation of international cooperation. If possible, the UIA would like them to represent a major segment of its market, together with the libraries.  The general and specialist public would then be linked via the UIA publications to the international NGOs.

In a previous section, the extent to which these organizations consider themselves to form a common category was discussed.  It is questionable whether more than 500 of them at a maximum consider that they have any common interests with other international NGOs, or even understand the use of the term. As will be shown later, very few of them purchase the UIA publications.

The UIA has undertaken to educate these organizations regarding their common interests by sending free copies of its monthly magazine to the headquarters of each of them.  It is very important therefore to get a clearer idea to what extent these organizations consider themselves to have any characteristics in common. An effort should be made to do this on a continuing basis in order to assess the success or otherwise of the UIA's efforts.

There is some indication that some NGOs resent the fact that the UIA makes a profit in some of its activities. There would seem to be a possibility that the growth of the profit market counteracts the growth of the non-profit market, as it is influenced by the NGOs.

The problem of deciding which segments of the market to develop, which to allow to decline and by what criterion to select new potential markets and publications, entirely depends upon a continuous evaluation of objectives. The UIA needs to decide very clearly what the sales of its publications to particular markets contribute towards the fulfillment of its objectives. Some markets may represent greater bond formation than others. Some should perhaps not be exploited unless absolutely necessary since they may compete for advertising campaign funds with other more useful markets.

Competition for Resources

An international NGO with international cooperation as an objective could be considered to have no competitors. Where there is competition, such organizations should apparently cooperate.  On -this reasoning many NGOs do not wish to use the term 'competitor' as descriptive of any features of their environment.

NGOs do however compete in two ways. They compete with one another for funds from the public, government, or foundations.  The more eligible organizations obtain the funds. They also compete more directly with one another and with commercial and governmental bodies. This happens when the activities of one organization are duplicated by another. Each organization attempts to locate the most fruitful area of activity, within the limits of its objectives, and to operate exclusively in that area. Hostility, paralleling that between competing commercial organizations, develops when one organization attempts to enter the chosen field of another. The UIA competitors have teen identified as far as possible in Exhibit 38.

This provides an analysis of each of the UIA publications and services and a comparison with those provided by competing organizations.

The areas of competition listed in the Exhibit are:

From the Exhibit it is clear that the UIA is competing with every type of organization.  Competition is direct, where the UIA performs the same service as other organizations.  It is indirect where the UIA competes with similar organizations for resources.

The UIA does not have the advantage it had 10 20 years ago. The UIA, whilst unique in that it covers all aspects of international NGO activity, no longer operates in completely virgin territory.  There are many commercial, national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations following up activities initially promoted by the UIA. This can . be considered as an indication of the organization's success and a justification for its efforts.

It appears very likely that this trend will continue and that the UIA will find new competitors which further split the market for its saleable products and grant resources. The main weakness of the UIA in dealing with the competition is that most of its assets as a documentation centre are fully available to any competition in published form.

Two competitors (Library of Congress, Technical Meetings Information Service) constitute a major threat to the future of the calendar. Their calendars contain more, if not better information, than that of the UIA. One of them is athird of the price, and they are both reproduced completely every quarter.  It is fortunate that they are both primarily interested in the U.S.A. market.  The TMIS has only recently branched into non-U.S.A./Canada meetings and may be planning to develop its sales in Europe.

The Yearbook has many minor competitors which will continue to split the market. These can only be met by providing more information more frequently or by preparing specialized Yearbooks. The major Yearbook weakness is the lack of information on national organizations.  Such information would make the Yearbook useful to a much wider market. This is one of the advantages of the only general competitor (Europa Publications). They may gradually be building up entries on international organizations in their Yearbook so as to be able to justify the production of their own 'Yearbook of International Organizations' without any implication of copyright infringement. Their publication has the advantage that it appears every year and is distributed through retail outlets.

Trends in the Field of Activity of Activity of Small Specialized Documentation Centres

There are two important trends which will strongly affect the future of the UIA as a small documentation centre. A3 requests for particular types of information increase, a documentation centre has to continue to be able to supply answers. If it cannot do so it will be by-passed on future occasions. It will be difficult for such organizations to obtain funds. Not only must a centre be able to provide the information, but it must be able to supply it quickly, or else it will be by-passed as before. In order to remain a viable centre, the UIA must therefore maintain close contact with the groups which are currently using its published information.  It must not only be able to handle the current requirements, but be able to anticipate future requirements.

Many libraries and documentation centres are faced with this problem. In order to combat it with the available resources they are being forced to integrate some of their operations. This permits them to exchange information quickly where a particular item is not present in a given collection of data. In this way, information networks are being set up within and bet ween countries using telex links (Van der Wolk, L.J. ,G1 ). It nay be very important for a small documentation centre like the UIA to be organized in such a way as to be able to link with one of these networks when they become more common in the next 5 to 10 years.

The other important trend is the switch from emphasis on storing information to an emphasis on making information available. Traditionally documentation centres collected information, which was then available for examination by interested parties. The information was generally organized for the convenience of the documentation centre, not for the convenience of those vising the information.

The situation is now changing very rapidly, particularly in the sciences. Information services are increasingly organized for the inquirer's convenience. The trend is towards a situation where the documentation centre must notify or supply each subscriber with the particular items of information he requires, as defined by an interest profile previously prepared. (Van Dijk, M.,G2,p. 21-27)

A good example of this is the report pre-print service provided by one of the major calendar competitors. This increases the utility of this calendar and by-passes the need to consult current bibliographies such as that produced by the UIA.  The UIA may need to be able to offer this sort of service at some future stage.

In order to deal with the rapidly increasing flow of information and the increasingly specific requests of inquirers, much use will have to be made of computers.  It is too soon to determine what effect these will have on small organizations but it will probably force many of them to merge together to conserve resources and avoid duplication.

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